Lucknow: Nine people, including two policemen, were injured in violence that broke out during the immersion of Durga idols in Uttar Pradesh's Faizabad and Barabanki areas, police said on Thursday, a day after the clashes.

The routes of the idol processions were changed late on Wednesday and the immersion completed, a senior police officer said. Principal Secretary (Home) R.M. Srivastava said "the situation was under control now".

While violence erupted in Mohammadpur Khala area in Barabanki, about 25 km from Lucknow, Faizabad area saw major clashes and damage to public property. Prohibitory orders were imposed in Faizabad, about 120 km from Lucknow, and the situation in the twin town of Ayodhya was being watched closely.

Schools, colleges and other educational institutions were closed till further orders. Temples in Faizabad did not open either. Curfew was imposed in Faizabad's Kotwali area the first time in 20 years. The last time cufew was imposed was after the Babri Masjid razing in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.

Wednesday's violence, quelled by police using batons and tear gas to contain scattered groups engaged in stone pelting and violence, began with a verbal spat during the idol procession. A group of persons objected to the spraying of gulaal near a mosque, leading to altercation that soon turned into violence. Dozens of bikes and  shops were torched at Guptarghat area, police said.

There were allegations that women were harassed when the procession was going through the Ma Hatthi Maharani temple. This further escalated hostilities and both sides pelted stones at each other. Some stones landed on the idols, triggering clashes. Angry mobs vandalised whatever came their way and smashed the vehicles of the city magistrate as well as a van belonging to the police. Violence also broke out in Aluhana village and a bike was torched and stones were hurled at the police posse.

Circle Officer Anil Kumar Singh Sisodia was among the injured. Police lobbed tear gas and fired in the air to control the crowd. Angry residents jammed the national highway near Bhelsar. Later, a man was stabbed in Bhola Kasaudhan.

As news of the incident spread, a roadways bus and fire brigade van were set on fire by angry locals. Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) B.P. Singh told reporters that a heavy police force had been deployed in violence-hit districts, and extra vigil was on to avoid further escalation.

"Three companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and one company of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) have been deployed," he said. Director General of Police (DGP) A.C. Sharma was monitoring the situation and briefing Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on the developments.


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